North

Black bear killed in Yellowknife posed significant risk, says forest officer

RCMP members killed a black bear over the weekend, according to the N.W.T. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. It came after two reports of bear sightings in the city.

Environment Department says it can't confirm if bear killed Sunday is same bear seen Saturday

A file photo of a black bear. The Northwest Territories Department of Environment and Natural Resources says a black bear was killed over the weekend, after the department received multiple reports of a black bear in Yellowknife. (Robert F. Bukaty/The Associated Press)

The Northwest Territories Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) says a black bear was killed over the weekend, after the department received multiple reports of a black bear in Yellowknife.

On Saturday at 8:30 p.m., ENR says it responded to reports of a black bear in the Frame Lake area. In an email to the CBC, it said reports indicated the bear was moving from the south side of the lake in the Northlands area, past the fire hall and École William McDonald School.

The department says the bear moved into the open area behind Con Mine, but wildlife officers were unable to locate it.

"ENR is aware of reports of sounds of 'gunshots' Saturday night. ENR officers did not discharge a weapon or bear banger on Saturday, and are not aware of any shots fired by RCMP," said ENR spokesperson Joslyn Oosenbrug in the email.

A lot of these situations are very dynamic, short-term situations and we just have to make a fairly fast decision.- Chris Tourangeau, ENR forest officer

On Sunday evening, ENR says it responded to several reports of a black bear in the Finlayson Drive and Kam Lake Road area at 10:30 p.m. The department says the bear was moving up Finlayson Drive toward N.J. MacPherson School, and it was found eating out of a dumpster at a nearby apartment complex. 

"Several RCMP officers were also on scene. Officers waited until the bear was in an area clear of people and property where RCMP could dispatch the bear safely."

RCMP killed the bear near N.J. MacPherson School at approximately 11 p.m., said ENR, adding that it is not possible to confirm whether the bear killed on Sunday evening was the same bear reported on Saturday.

Tranquilizing bear not a 'viable option': ENR

Chris Tourangeau, a forest officer with ENR, said the department does consider tranquilizing an animal before killing it, but in this case it wasn't a "viable option."

"That's certainly something we want to consider. We never want to destroy a bear as our first option," he said.

Tourangeau said public safety is number one when it comes to those decisions, and this bear posed a significant risk.

"It had become habituated to eating garbage and somebody could very easily have caught it by surprise and had a surprise bear encounter, which are unpredictable and dangerous," he said.

"But a lot of these situations are very dynamic, short-term situations and we just have to make a fairly fast decision in the field about how we're going to handle it."

Tourangeau said the department tries to warn the public about bears in or near public areas, but said residents need to be aware that even in the city, bears can pass through. 

Bradley Cordero said the bear was quite big. He and his friend were 'kinda shocked' to see the animal in the city, he said. (CBC)

Bradley Cordero was out on his longboard with a friend on Saturday night when they saw the bear run out of a forested area on Franklin Avenue, between the curling club and Northlands trailer park.

"It ran out towards the street, didn't make it to the street, stopped at the sidewalk, kinda looked around all panicked, and then darted right back into the woods," he said.

Cordero said the bear was quite wide, and "easily 200 pounds." He said he and his friend were "kinda shocked" to see the animal in the city.

"[I] hadn't seen a bear in all my weekends out on the Ingraham Trail, so I was surprised to see one kinda in the centre of town," he said.

ENR thanked the public for reporting the incidents. 

"We live in bear country, and it is not uncommon for black bears to travel along the perimeter of Yellowknife. When a bear does enter a residential area, human safety is our number one priority," the department's email said.

"A bear that has become habituated to human activity, including garbage, can be dangerous and unpredictable."

With files from Hilary Bird

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